Raisin in the Sun Essay: A Dream Deferred

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Dream Deferred in A Raisin in the Sun

"What happens to a dream deferred?" (l. 1) Langston Hughes asks in his 1959 poem "Dream Deferred." He suggests that it might "dry up like a raisin in the sun" (ll. 2-3) or "stink like rotten meat" (l. 6); however, at the end of the poem, Hughes offers another alternative by asking, "Or does it explode?" (l. 11). This is the view Lorraine Hansberry supports in her 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun. The drama opens with Walter reading, "Set off another bomb yesterday" (1831), from the front page of the morning newspaper; however, he is unaware that bombs will soon detonate inside his own house. These bombs are explosions of emotion caused by frustration among members of Walter's family who are
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I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, 'Yes, sir; no, sir; very good, sir; shall I take the Drive, sir?' Mama, that ain't no kind of job . . . that ain't nothing at all" (1855). Once the check arrives, Walter can think only of investing the money, which to him "is life" (1856); consequently, he does not give Ruth a chance to tell him she is pregnant and has decided to abort their baby. Mama interrupts Walter to encourage him to listen to his wife; however, this causes a detonation of Walter's anger when he yells, "WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE LISTEN TO ME TODAY!" (1854).

Ruth has made a habit out of not listening to Walter: rather than exploding in a fit of rage, the timid Ruth releases her frustration by nagging and ignoring her husband, but at times she explodes with joy. Ruth is tired and worn out like her house in the ghetto, and nagging Walter has become part of her daily routine; for instance, each morning Ruth complains, "Why you always got to smoke before you eat in the morning?" (1832). When Walter says he wants his eggs "Not scrambled" (1831), Ruth ignores him and automatically begins to scramble his eggs. She gives similar treatment to Walter's sister: Ruth pesters Beneatha about cleaning her room and makes fun of her experimentation with "different forms of expression" (1843) by reminding Beneatha of her "fifty-five-dollar riding habit that's been hanging in the closet" (1842). Because she is afraid of
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